When the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design opened in fall 2012, only one course was held in the building.
This semester, over 100 students are enrolled in the six courses offered at the CEID, up from only 14 students in 2012. Many of the courses are interdisciplinary and draw students from across campus, particularly those in music, art and engineering. Professors teaching the new CEID courses noted a large increase in interest over the past few semesters, so much so that some of the courses are consistently oversubscribed. Director of the CEID and Deputy Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Vincent Wilczynski said in an email that the increase in enrollment and courses reflects students’ growing interest in design and creative work.
“This interest is part of Yale’s DNA that strives for not just the desire to learn, but also demands a desire to create that which did not exist before,” Wilczynski said. “The growth in new classes combined with the existing design-oriented classes reflects in part a national trend where students apply knowledge to solving problems, not just on paper, but in the physical world.”
In “Musical Acoustics and Instrument Design” (ENAS 344/MUSI 371), co-taught by music lecturer Konrad Kaczmarek, the students’ first lab involved building a xylophone by cutting bars of wood and measuring their density in order to get the proper tune. Last fall was Kaczmarek’s first teaching a class that combines traditional learning with hands-on activities. He said he thinks the class’s structure provides an “invaluable lesson” for students about patience.
“I messed up in this class more than I have in any other class I have taken,” said Jordan Plotner ’17, who took Kaczmarek’s class. “When I messed up drilling or soldering, there was no one there to say ‘that’s wrong’ and deduct a point, but instead, I had to fix it in order to fully bring my idea to life. I was invested in this class as a creator more so than a student.”
The course could not have existed anywhere but the CEID, explained Lawrence Wilen, senior research scientist of mechanical engineering and materials science, who co-taught the class. Nowhere else on campus are all those resources offered, he said.
According to Paul Anastas, director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the CEID “revolutionized” his course, “Green Engineering and Sustainable Design” (ENVE 360). Before the class moved into the CEID, the students did not have the chance to build a prototype. Now, the class can put into practice and bring to life the theoretical concepts they talk about, Anastas said.
Other classes struggled to access adequate resources. Before Global Affairs lecturer Bo Hopkins was able to move his class, “Appropriate Technology in the Developing World” (MENG 491), into the CEID, students worked in a small shared basement lab space where they found themselves scrambling for tools. Now, he said, the class could not do without the CEID.
Last spring in Hopkins’ class, a team of four students from different disciplines came together to design Khushi Baby, a special bracelet with a communication chip that contains a child’s entire vaccination record. Khushi Baby competed against 21 other teams in InnovateHealth Yale’s inaugural competition and won the event’s $25,000 Thorne Prize. This month, the device begins its trial program.
This year, Hopkins’ class will use the CEID to design technology that solves problems related to the 2014 Ebola epidemic, he added.
The CEID opened to all students in August 2012 and held its dedication ceremony on Valentine’s Day 2013.